Beskid Sądecki Forest

He was born in the uncharted thicket of the Radziejowa mountain slopes, where they drop towards the Mała and Duża Roztoka Ryterska thundering down on the rocks.

Rogaś z Doliny Roztoki, Maria Kownacka

Beskid Sądecki Forest

I’ve never thought that a trip to the Southern Poland will inspire me to go back to my childhood-book – ‘Rogaś’ (Polish equivalent of Bambi) – Beside this very forester's lodge Maria Kownacka (the author) was sitting and writing the novel – said Krzysiek from the Piwniczna Forest District during our conversation. That’s how it all started – the first story of The Book of Forests about Beskid Sądecki forests.

From Kraków, you can get here by a train or a bus. The drive to boundary of Beskid takes few hours, The further journey is even more interesting. Especially the train route along Poprad river through the Popradzki Landscape Park. It seems very interesting and undiscovered. I’ve never wanted anything more in my entire life than to be in the train we passed while driving along the Poprad river, - a natural boundary between Poland and Slovakia. The river separates two mountain ranges – Radziejowa and Jaworzyna Krynicka.

I’m glad that the Book starts in this place. Krzysiek is our guide and shows us around these are beautiful, very old and diversified forests. We are chatting about his work, Beskid and photography – his biggest hobby. Our first steps led us to the educational center where he works. He is a kind of a guy who says that he’ll show you only one pic and hour later, you end up watching his whole collection.

We were talking about characteristic in this region: lynx, wildcat, wolf, eagles and Carpathian sycamore-maple forest. I’ve learned that there are 4 types of dragonflies. I tell him what I want to create. We plotted everything on a map and set out.

Map

Let’s have a close look at Forests of Beskid Sądecki that constitute Promotional Forest Complex. We’re in Southern Poland round about the Slovakia border.

Sanctuaries

Within the forest area you’ll find 10 sanctuaries created to protect unique animal and plant species within this area. One – due to its historic value.

Hajnik

fragment of the firry Carpathian Forest, protected lion's mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus).

Obrożyska

unique on the European scale, small-leaved lime stand tree at a lower subalpine forest of Karpaty.

Żebracze

fragment of Carpathian association of beech forest; natural topography, water-head glens and gullies.

Baniska

old fir and beech trees - fragment of the Carpathian Forest. Habitats of Western capercaillie.

Lembarczek

natural fir and beech tree stands within Jaworzyna Krynicka mountain range.

Wierchomla

natural old-growth forest; coarse-grain sandstone ridges.

Okopy Konfederackie

trenches of Bar Cofederates from XVIIIth century.

Barnowiec, Łabowiec

protection of beech stands as well as fir and beech tree stands aged around 160 years old, characteristic of the Carpathian Primeval Forest.

Uchryń

protection of fir and beech tree stands aged around 230 years old, characteristic of the Primeval Carpathian Forest.

In forest

Krynica Zdrój, Muszyna, Piwniczna – these regions are famous for their mineral waters. You may find many small and average streams while walking in the forest.

Going further – beech, fir, Carpathian sycamore-maple forest, hart's-tongue fern, perennial honesty, willow gentian or smooth snake. Alpine, Smooth, Northern crested and Carpathian newt. I could go on for hours with those beautiful and puzzling names.

Beskid Sądecki is home for 45 out of 65 land mammals that live in Poland, many protected species and 110 out of 148 bird species that live in Karpaty. In terms of its natural form it gives way only to the Białowieża Primeval Forest. These are the steepest mountains in Poland, especially those near Piwniczna. It is also a place where a reconstruction of the western capercaillie takes place, thanks to this action this rare bird species is to return to surrounding forests.

Carpathian sycamore-maple forest

Be careful, not to slip – I hear – the ground under leaves is not hardened. Indeed, we’re walking on a steep side. The only trees that are capable of growing here have long roots as for example sycamore. This tree is very often surrounded by certain association of plants and altogether they create mini-forest like form, known as Carpathian sycamore-maple forest.

On the side of pictures you can see the fragment of Carpathian sycamore-maple forest, and those green leaves belong to hart's-tongue which is a fern strain. In Poland it is a protected species since late fifties.

Fir

Fir – a tree species in the family Pinaceae. It occurs most frequently in Asia and South America. In Poland we may find mainly the European silver fir. Fir is a very high tree, the highest reach almost 55 meters in height – those in the picture and film exceed 50 meters. Its color is grey (ashy) and its wood is blond.

Interestingly, fir plays an important role in mythology, allegedly fir wood was used to build the Trojan Horse. Moreover, fir wood is soft and therefore Romans used it as a writing slates.

The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

The golden eagle is the biggest species of Aquila eagles. Eagle’s wingspan reaches even 225 cm, and its body length amounts to 80-90 cm. This species occurs in Canada, Western USA, the Iberian Peninsula, the Balkan Peninsula, Southern France, the Alps, and many other countries.

In Poland there are not many of them (about 30-35 pairs). Most of them live in Bieszczady, Beskid Niski, Sądecki, Pieniny, Gorce, Beskid Żywiecki i Tatry. In Poland golden eagle is a protected species. The golden eagle feeds on medium-sized mammals and birds, European pine marten, Capreolus, hares, cats, foxes, doves, owls and fowl.


The Ural owl (Strix uralensis)

They swept me off my feet. Literally – said Krzysiek about the Ural owl. When you’re around the nest with chicks inside, adult owls are very aggressive. I’m a big guy but I felt dizzy.

In Poland there are few hundreds pairs of the Ural owl, and they are one of the biggest owls in Europe. Just look at them - aren’t they majestic? Females are bigger that males in this species – but they are capable of mating for life.

Education

At first I didn’t want to write about education, though I was asked about this many times. I wrote down everything very meticulously, I saw educational room showing various animals in their natural environment.

But.

I really loved this playground for children. I walked up to many boards trying to guess what’s on the other side. I touched various types of wood. I didn’t have a problem with guessing mushrooms, however, I wasn’t able to guess all predators. At the same time I’ve written down that this forest district conducts forest classes for several thousand children and creates various forest tracks and places like this one.

Click on the picture to find out for yourself.

Lynxes and camera traps

Last but not least we have something very special. Forests of Beskid Śląski are one out of three in Poland where you can find bear, wolf and lynx. The last are the easiest to meet, but still hard to capture on camera, therefore when we see them on film it is usually thanks to camera traps.

These four pics below present young lynxes, feeding in front of the camera and playing with it.

This is the first out of 25 entries that compose the Book of Forests. We take you on a journey across Polish forests. I’d like to thank Krzysztof Tomasiak from Piwniczna Forest District and Piotr Horzela from PH on Tour for great support and help.

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